SUNSET PARK — Prosecutors are moving forward with charges against a Sunset Park street vendor who was caught on video getting kicked in the back by a police officer in what the NYPD commissioner called a "totally unprovoked" attack, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.
The DA's office filed a motion on Nov. 18 stating that 22-year-old vendor Jonathan Daza became combative when police told him to pack up his table at a street festival and resisted when officers tried to arrest him.
A video of the incident shows multiple officers confronting Daza and then struggling to arrest him as a crowd of onlookers gathered around shouting at police. The video then shows Officer Vincent Ciardiello kicking Daza in the back as he was pinned face-down on the ground.
Ciardiello was suspended as a result of the incident, which NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called “totally unprovoked” and said he would "very aggressively" address.
Ciardiello served his 30-day suspension without pay but has not been reassigned to the 72nd Precinct, according to police sources.
Daza was selling fresh-cut fruit with his family during the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Street Festival on Sept. 14 when officers asked them to pack up their table, according to court documents.
The officers, identified as Carlos Irizarry and Juan-Carlos Palacios, saw a line of about seven people waiting at Daza’s table around 6 p.m. and told the family to leave once they had finished with those customers, court documents said.
Roughly 40 minutes later, the officers returned to the table and told Daza’s mother to stop selling fruit since the festival had ended, the documents said. Officers warned that they would issue a summons ticket if they continued selling fruit.
Daza then intervened, according to the DA, and began to “clench his fists and yell and scream” at the officers.
Officer Irizarry then tried to handcuff Daza because of his “combativeness,” but the street vendor resisted arrest and “began to swing his body and arms,” court documents said.
The DA claims Wendy Daza, 20, Edwin Morales and Edwin Rosario attempted to prevent Daza and his 17-year-old sister Cindy from getting arrested. Morales also threw pizza at one of the officers, the DA said.
Jonathan Daza, Cindy Daza, Wendy Daza, Morales and Rosario were all arrested that night.
Jonathan Daza was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment, court documents said.
Wendy Daza and Rosario were both charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Morales was charged obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment.
The DA filed a motion to consolidate the four dockets, excluding Cindy Daza. She was charged with assaulting a police officer, attempted assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, harassment and obstruction of governmental adminstration. She's due back in court in March.
Rebecca Heinegg, the attorney for the Daza siblings, called the incident “an act of unprovoked police aggression,” according to a motion to dismiss the charges filed on Dec. 4.
Heinegg, using the video recording of the altercation as evidence, said the DA’s filing had numerous “fictitious” and “fraudulent accusations.”
The incident only began when a group of officers approached the Daza family, who appeared to be packing up their table, according to Heinegg’s filing, which cited the video.
Contrary to the DA’s claim, Daza did not act hostile but only intervened when he told his sister Wendy that she didn’t have to answer officers’ questions, Heinegg said.
Three members of the Daza family were hurt by the police that day, the attorney added, without elaborating on the injuries.
“The overwhelming factor in this case is the clearly the [sic] exceptionally serious misconduct of law enforcement personnel,” Heinegg wrote.
“The situation that lead to their arrest was entirely caused and escalated by the actions of the police officers involved.”